Germany in Summer: The Junggesellenabschied
Since moving to the tourist hotspot of Nürnberg, I have learned a number of vital skills. With so many people stopping to take photos, I have perfected body contortion and quick reflexes that allow me to dodge any and all picture ruining situations. Although I am positive that some visitors have left with multiple images of me dodging past with an apologetic smile, I am generally pretty good at avoiding being an unwitting addition to some Chinese tourist cherished family memories. I have also mastered a Zen like level of patience that stops me from grabbing any and all selfie sticks and snapping them over my knee or slapping iPads out of the hands of tourists as they attempt to take a photo. I am honestly not an aggressive man, but something about people using iPads as cameras fills me with a white hot rage of a thousand suns.
Among the tourist that flock to Nürnberg from all around the world, there are domestic tourists from all parts of Germany too. One of my wife’s favourite games is to guess the regional accent, one that only seems to stop when we find someone who has a stronger Schwaben accent then her. Although I like this game, I am often too preoccupied preventing my worst self from accosting yet another tourist with an iPad and bellowing “You’re using technology wrong you imbecile” at the top of my lungs.
Thankfully for my wife and possibly my sanity, during the summer tourist cities like Nürnberg have a weekly influx of domestic German tourists, in the form of the Junggesellenabschied, that can be an easy distraction. For British audiences that would be your common or garden stag and hen parties, for those in the US your bachelor and bachelorette parties. Like in the UK and the US, the Junggesellenabschied follows some similar tropes; they often have themed outfits or t-shirts emblazoned with semi-humorous slogans for example, or one person in the group is wearing a wedding veil or a morph suit indicating which person is getting married. There are also some other key divergences that separate a German Junggesellenabschied from their British and American counterparts.
For instance, by and large most Junggesellenabschied are basically sober during the day, I say basically as I have never actually breathalysed any of them, but I have yet to see any passed out before 9 PM or happily exposing themselves in the middle of the afternoon. In comparison, when I lived Newcastle, a city that attracts many stag and hen parties, I distinctly remember waiting for a bus in the city centre when a man, in a very fetching floral summer dress came marching past with two dildos taped to his hands. That was around 11.30 on a Thursday morning. Now you might understand what barometer of drunkenness I am using.
I would forgive them for being a little drunk, given that one of the most common tasks set for a potential bride or groom is to sell bottles of schnapps and sweets to strangers in order to pay for their night out. It is easy to gauge how drunk a Junggesellenabschied is by how timid they are to speak to anyone, if you are being directly accosted by a group you can assume they have tried at least a few of their wares before attempting to sell anything.
This process of selling drinks and sweets is quite funny for the British because Germans will avoid a Junggesellen so as not to have to buy some gruesome schnapps drink or a penis shaped chocolate bar, whereas the British avoid stag and hen parties for the inevitable chaos that can consume any group of people who have been drinking for twelve hours. Anyone who has been to Amsterdam, Prague or other major Junggesellen destinations will know the difficulties of getting into bars and clubs when a group is more than six people, especially six men. I might not have any proof of this but I am certain this rule was created after a run in with a British stag or hen party. Even in the UK, large groups of men, dressed in funny clothes could be told they have to leave a bar because of the potential risk of allowing them to stay. Only yesterday there was a story of a group of priests, who were told to leave a pub when they were mistaken as a stag party because they were all dressed the same.
This is not to say that Junggesellen cannot go overboard. German newspapers are inundated with tales of drunken harassment or general stupidity from groups of men celebrating their friend’s upcoming wedding by starting fights in the company of prostitutes, being thrown in jail for sexual harassment or being found helplessly wandering the streets in their underpants. I rarely see this level of chaos on the streets of Nürnberg, but I am more than sure it happens with an unswerving regularity.
Despite the worst examples of the genre, the summer phenomena of the Junggesellenabschied do not bother me in general. Sure they are maybe loud and frequently obnoxious, but I find them to be mostly harmless drunk people, who really only want you to buy a bottle of schnapps or in one curious case some toy cars. I can handle that, I mean I am not an unreasonable man. Unreasonable would be spending vast amounts of money on a product, an iPad for instance, and then using it incorrectly, like taking a photo or something similar, so incorrectly in fact the only conclusion that can be drawn is they want other people to see that they have spent vast amounts of money. Those people are the worst. As long as the Junggesellenabschied do not start doing that, I think we will all be OK.